Tuesday
Dec092014

How To Get the Most Out of CrossFit Group Classes


By Noah Abbott, with an introduction by David Osorio

A professionally run CrossFit group class requires orchestrating a lot of moving parts. On ITA, we've talked about how and why coaches should use time stamps to organize classes, discussed how to intelligently organize lifting segments, and even described how introductions in group classes help facilitate a sense of community and set the tone for training. It is absolutely the responsibility of the coaches running each class to make sure things are clear, smooth, and safe for everyone. But group classes are also a dance of sorts, that require members to also hold up their end of the bargain by being prepared. In one of our previous articles, "A Letter to New CrossFitters: Good Training Habits," we discussed some fundamental and conceptual perspectives regarding how to get the most out of your overall CrossFit experience. In today's article, we're talking to athletes, about what you can do to be a proactive member of your affiliate and get more out of your CrossFit group classes—and win the admiration of your coaches in the process. Enjoy!

Fresh out of Foundations, the world of CrossFit can seem a bit overwhelming, full of jargon, percentages, and acronyms only a government employee could love. (“This is an AMRAP WOD of T2B and DUs!!!”) While things can seem to move pretty fast, there are some specific strategies and considerations that will make your daily hour of fitness better spent. Equally important, it will make for a more pleasant experience for your fellow members, and allow your coaches more time to spend doing what they love (yelling “Knees out!” for instance) and less time in an administrative or cat-shepherding function. To be fully awesome, do this: 

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Monday
Dec012014

STRONG Gym: Inside a Strength Training Gym

As told to Katharine Reece for Inside the Affiliate by Strong Gym co-owner, Matt Reynolds. 

Basic Statistics

Gym name: STRONG Gym

Location: Springfield, Missouri

Year started: July 2008

Estimated number of members: 900

Square footage: 14,000 square feet

Gym co-owners: Matt Reynolds, Paden Stringer, and William McNeely (read more about them here)

Number of full-time and part-time trainers: Four full-time staff who are also coaches, three full-time coaches, and three owners, who also coach 

ITA: Tell us the story about how your gym started. 

MR: After training out of my two-car garage from 2001 to 2008, our group of competitive powerlifters and Strongmen had outgrown the space. We weren’t a business, but rather a group of training partners. William McNeely and I opened STRONG Gym, in 2008, in a typical industrial space—10,000 square-foot warehouse with no heat, no A/C, no business plan, no insurance—and with no delusions of grandeur. We weren’t starting a business, we just wanted a place to train. And then people started showing up.

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Monday
Nov172014

How to Program Deadlifts at CrossFit Affiliates


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit another gym while on vacation. I was excited to go and especially since starting to write ITA, I've become even more curious about how other people run classes and write their programming. At this affiliate, the strength segment called for a 3RM deadlift, followed by 10RM deadlift. At the whiteboard review, there wasn't a lot of context provided for the less experienced athletes regarding how to organize their lifting to meet the two goals. Curious about the intention of the programming, I approached the coach and asked her three relatively basic questions: 1) Are these touch-and-go or dead start deadlifts; 2) How many attempts at the 3RM and 10RM are you expecting us to do; and 3) Do you have any guidance as to how to pick a 10RM weight based on the 3RM. In a noncommittal tone, she told me to do whatever I felt like doing since it wasn't specified.

Looking around the room, unable to turn off my coaching eye, people seemed to be just winging it, making multiple attempts at 3 and 10RMs, dropping the bar frequently, and some were losing their positioning from the accumulated fatigue. Without proper context and guidance, people were more or less left to their own devices to figure out the programming and a few were overextending themselves beyond what they could organize and handle. The coach was walking around trying to help people with fault corrections, but refining movement is only one part of what makes an effective and professional coach. Understanding the intention of your programming, communicating it effectively, and then being able to scale or modify based on what you see are equally important, and unfortunately were in short shift during this segment. 

I've wanted to write an article about programming deadlifts at CrossFit affiliates for a while and my experience at this gym brought it back to the forefront of my mind. Executed correctly, the deadlift is the most effective exercise for overloading hip extension and developing a strong and stable back. But done incorrectly or programmed haphazardly, the deadlift is an extremely effective way to fuck yourself or your members up. In today's article, we'll discuss how we program deadlifts at CFSBK for strength versus using them in metcons, and we’ll share some additional thoughts related to basic execution of the lift and context of usage.

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Monday
Nov102014

Collective Learning and CrossFit


Inside the Affiliate’s first birthday was yesterday, and I’m proud to say that we’ve written over 50 articles, with almost 200,000 pageviews. Writing this blog has helped me connect with people from all over the world and even refined how I approach practices at my own gym. I originally got into CrossFit back in 2005, and continue to be thankful for the huge network of people and training philosophy that CrossFit provided, both of which served as a jumping-off point for me to build a successful business. As I’ve mentioned before, I started ITA in large part because I want to give something back to the community and create the resource I would have wanted back when I was starting out. 

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Monday
Nov032014

How to Find the Balance Between Training and Exercise at CrossFit Affiliates


In a Huffington Post article at the beginning of 2014, noted strength coach and author Mark Rippetoe discussed the differences between training and exercise. Read the full article here, but in essence, Rippetoe says:

Training involves “directed physical stress,” and is “the process of going from where you are now to where you want to be later for the purpose of meeting a specific performance goal.”
Exercise is physical activity performed for the effect it produces today—right now. Each workout is performed for the purpose of producing a stress that satisfies the immediate needs of the exerciser: burning some calories, getting hot, sweaty, and out of breath, pumping up the biceps, stretching—basically just punching the physical clock” (Practical Programming, 3rd Edition). 

While some debate ensued regarding other specifics in the article, the real value of this discussion, in my opinion, is the standardization of semantics when discussing the effectiveness of a program. These definitions are useful because most people have no idea what the difference is between training and exercise—and as an affiliate owner or coach, you need to be able to explain to your members why Barry’s Bootcamp or SoulCycle are not actually training.

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